Sequestration and Boston – Plus the DorobekINSIDER’s 7 Stories

On GovLoop Insights’ DorobekINSIDER:

  • Open data, BYOD, data analytics, for many local government’s those innovative ideas aren’t a reality. For them the most important innovations are those that change their bureaucratic processes to improve the way they deliver their services while reducing their costs. We get insights from the New America Foundation.

But up front: Sequestration and Boston

Day 53 of sequestration:

After weeks of talking about the impacts of sequestration, it is starting to come to fruition by way of furloughs and the work that doesn’t get done during those furloughs… and it also leaves government workers in the lurch.

  • The Washington Post:Furloughs underway, but uncertainty remains for many workers- After months of nervous anticipation, federal workers begin the first major round of furloughs this week, even as much uncertainty remains at some agencies about how much time, if any, employees will lose from their jobs because of mandated spending cuts. About 17,000 employees of the Environmental Protection Agency also face furloughs beginning this week, as do 480 employees of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. But the Transportation Security Administration, which had warned that it would need to furlough 50,000 officers from their jobs protecting airline travel, said last week that the agency no longer expects to take employees off the job.
  • Government Executive: IRS to Send Furlough Notices to All Employees on Monday
  • Politico: FAA data show that up to 6,700 flights could be delayed each day thanks to the sequester’s furloughs – but that hinges on “blue sky” conditions, so there could be even more delays in bad weather. In San Francisco, for example, there could be a 19-minute average delay in good weather but 230 minutes in bad weather.

Meanwhile, Simpson-Bowles has a new proposal to find middle ground. Former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson and former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles are not backing off their calls for new revenues but also aren’t pitching the same phased-in gas tax increase. Read the plan.


  • Sequestration comes in stark contrast to the Boston bomber case, where the authorities were almost immediately hailed for their hard work. That being said, it only has taken days for lawmakers to raise questions about whether the FBI “dropped the ball” on the alleged bombers, as Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested over the weekend.
  • AP: White House defends FBI query into Boston suspect

Some of us argued that these situations demonstrate why good government matters — and why we should make decisions about what matters and what doesn’t rather than using something like sequestration.

All of that being said, I have to believe there will be many lessons coming from the Boston bomber search. Some interesting reads that are starting that conversation:

Reddit + Boston: Journalism gets better when more people are doing it.

How the Boston bombings will impact political Washington- Boston’s week-long nightmare ended Friday evening. But, for political Washington the reverberations of what happened in the Hub have only just begun. Start with the Sunday talk shows, which were dominated by talk of Boston and its aftermath. Disagreements have already begun to emerge between Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Democrats like Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) over whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be treated as an enemy combatant. (Graham says he should, Feinstein disagrees.) Then consider the fallout that the bombings have already had on efforts to reform the country’s immigration system — with the likes of Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dan Coats (R-Ind.) urging Congress to slow down in the wake of Boston. (Graham, for what it’s worth, said Sunday that the bombings in Boston are an argument to speed up the reform of immigration laws). – Washington Post.

Boston frames surveillance debate: Police state paranoia has long stoked angst and outrage, until an incident like the Boston Marathon bombings takes place and the nation heaves a sigh of relief that security cameras gazed unblinkingly upon Beantown’s streets and sidewalks. – Politico.

The SEVEN stories that impact your life

  1. House oversight committee is looking into your pay. The Washington Post reports, the Congressman have requested a study of the federal pay scale. In a letter to the Government Accountability Office, Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) asked the congressional watchdog agency to ”identify the attributes of a modern, effective classification system and the extent to which the GS system is consistent with those attributes.”
  2. The Pentagon is boosting its spending on offensive cyberwarfare capabilities. Military Times reports, the military is increasing its budget for cyber-warfare and expanding its offensive capabilities, including the ability to blind an enemy’s radar or shut down its command systems in the event of war, according to two defense officials. In the 2014 defense budget released recently, the money allocated for cyber-operations rose to $4.7 billion, up from $3.9 billion.
  3. Eric Fanning has been confirmed by the Senate to be the next Air Force undersecretary, a position that’s been open since June 2012, when Erin Conaton left the job to become undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness. In the meantime, Jamie Morin has held the position on an acting basis. Fanning, who previously served as the Navy’s deputy undersecretary and deputy chief management officer, is expected to be sworn into his new position later this month.
  4. In your furlough update. All 90,000 employees at the Internal Revenue Service will begin to receive their furlough notices today — including Acting Commissioner Steven Miller. Federal Times reports, the furloughs will occur on May 24, June 14, July 5, July 22 and Aug. 30, with another two days possible in August and September.
  5. Combined Federal Campaign pledges fell to $257.2 million in 2012, down more than $15 million about 6 percent — from the preceding year, according to new federal figures. Federal Times reports, the total represents the third straight yearly drop for the troubled workplace charity drive; the numbers —are the lowest since at least 2004, when pledges amounted to $256.9 million.
  6. The Veterans Affairs Department announced a new plan to expedite disability claims from the veterans who have waited the longest. VA says it is making provisional decisions on claims that are at least a year old. It will use the evidence at hand. The agency is responding to criticism about the soaring number of claims that have been pending for longer than 125 days. The VA said that of the nearly 900,000 claims pending in the system, some 250,000 are from veterans who have been waiting at least a year for a decision.
  7. And on GovLoop in case you missed the DorobekINSIDER Live panel discussion on citizen engagement – you can find the recap here.

The DorobekINSIDER water-cooler fodder

  • George Packer: Boston’s Bravery: “Since we live in a period when many things in America don’t work, it’s almost strange to find so many institutions and individuals meeting our highest standards. The bravery, humanity, and sheer competence of people in Boston recalled London during the Blitz, or New York on September 11th. “
  • Government Technology: Can Los Angeles Redesign How We Vote? L.A. County enters into the design phase of a new user-driven voting system for the city’s 4.7 million registered voters.

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